When I was about 7 I had a year of pop obsession, and wrote a hit record chart of made up names…”Now the Time” by Igloo Band, “Window Box” by Player, “Runaway Horse” by Clapper – that sort of thing, very off the top of the head. Number one was “Oh the Eagle” which was the first and only song I wrote back then.
After the euphoria of 72-74 I gave up on pop, but my radio taping began again in earnest in the ear era of Elvis Costello, Squeeze & Blondie. Not only did I start making up pop charts again, this time on a weekly schedule, but I filled in the detail of album track listings and LP covers. Here’s a sample:
This may for some have been a harmless phase of obsession, but I was driven on very soon to the next step: actually recording some of the albums. To start with, I had only a tape recorder, and assorted ‘found’ percussion, and my timid voice, and often barely more words other than riffing on a title. My school chums joined in raucously, not really aspiring to greater things, but I went on – adding a second tape recorder for primitive dubbing extra tracks, and getting my first acoustic guitar for Xmas ’80.
There was something liberating about coming to the blank cassette canvas with just a list of track titles, and an assortment of things to hit, rattle and scrape. The results were quickfire and shot through with the odd moment of inspiration – but only really for my lugholes to patiently discern. Nothing was likely to impress my contemporaries, though they may wonder now at my sheer obstinacy to keep plugging away…years later, with added chords and properly worked through lyrics.
If I’d been on track, I should have been gigging and recording with a band by the late 80s, but as a shy, slow developer it has taken me a lot longer to get out there. At least I have a set of home-taped artifacts – albeit DIY, but a precious trove of originality. The years drop away, and I’m still chipping at the coal face of my art. I hope I always will be, but it would be great to haul myself up to the next level (me, and the band now).